Officially in Training!

For my blog readers who don’t follow my Facebook page, here’s a little update on my running! Yesterday (May 4th) I ran my first 10k. I completed it with a time of 1 hour 11 minutes 25 seconds. I’m not a fast runner, obviously, but I love long distances. This was my very first race ever and it was a great experience. It left me inspired and taught me a few things.

I plan on working on my speed and improving my technique because I’d like to run the Ventura Marathon in 4.5 hours or less. Today marks the first day of my 18 week training program and I’m rearing to go! From this point forward, I’m sticking with the program and focusing on my diet.

My fastest mile so far was 10 minutes. I’d like to run it in 9, and hopefully one day be able to maintain a 9 minute mile pace even on long distance runs.

I’m also currently researching barefoot running! Look it up, it’s fascinating!

If you haven’t already, follow me on Facebook at Margaret On A Mission

My Battle-scars

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^ This is my belly, today, at 8 months postpartum. It has carried three full-term pregnancies and suffered one miscarriage, been through 2 laparoscopies, 1 c-section, and a total hysterectomy. And thanks to my passion for running, I think it looks pretty good considering all I have been through. My skin tends to heal scars to near invisibility over time, so those dots on the sides might fade away by next year. My c-section scar might take a little longer, but half of it is already beginning to disappear. The wrinkled skin around my navel might require a little extra TLC to bounce back (if it ever even does), and the faded stretch marks will probably always be there.

My belly might never return to its former, pre-baby/pre-surgery glory, but I am ok with that. If my body decides to keep the scars, I am ok with that, too. Stretch marks and wrinkled skin were part of the package of child-bearing for me. And the surgical scars, although small, are a reminder of what I’ve had to go through to get to where I am today. They are a reminder that my health and strength today cannot be taken for granted.

I am not only on a mission to get fit and run a marathon – I am also on a mission to inspire other women who have been through health woes of their own. I want to show other women that if you work hard enough, and set your mind to it, you can recover. You can be whoever you want to be, and you can look the way you want to look. You just have to work hard and NEVER GIVE UP!

Whether your goal is to be a successful businesswoman or a ripped female bodybuilder, YOU CAN DO IT! Dedication, hard work, and perseverance are key, as well as the ability to love and respect yourself.

Live your life for YOU.

No matter who you may be, it is absolutely necessary for you to love and respect yourself and to be HAPPY in order to be there wholly for those who matter most in your life, from your children to your spouse, from friends to extended family.

***Please follow my facebook page, Margaret on a Mission!***

And I Thought the Terrible-Two’s Were Bad!

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My second child is turning 3 on Sunday, and I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that she’s an imposter. She showed up stealthily in the middle of the night a few weeks ago, bound and gagged my real daughter, hid her somewhere and then took her place. No amount of pleading with her will convince her to bring my sweet baby girl back, and based on my experience, it will probably be about a year before she is returned to us…unless she gives me a few brief visits here and there.

Unfortunately for this mommy, we chose to have our first two children very close in age, 13 months to be exact. So if you do the math, you will realize that our oldest barely returned from captivity by his evil twin just over a month ago. Looks like I’m not getting a break at all from the horrible threes. That’s right. I get to enjoy this marvelous stage of boundary-pushing, tantrum-throwing, and selfishness for two long and lovely years.

Delanna used to be the sweetest girl ever to walk the face of this earth. She loved everyone and I swore she was the most reasonable and agreeable toddler ever born. She was the easy second child. I thought it was because I was now an “experienced” mom. But let me tell you, no amount of experience can prepare you for what the threes have in store. It’s a dark and stormy year, and if you manage to maintain your composure without ever once throwing a tantrum of your own or even breaking down in private, then you are a saint with an out-of-this-world level of patience and godly self control. And therefore we cannot be friends. Because I know you are lying.

Today, during a brief trip to the dollar store she decided she should be in charge of the entire mission to find crafting supplies. First, she screamed at the top of her lungs when I wouldn’t allow her to ride in the shopping cart. Then she refused to come with me, so I left her in one aisle and turned into another where she couldn’t see me. She cried, and then followed. I thought maybe she would stop rebelling now that she realized I was serious and that I was not going to cave in to her. Boy was I ever wrong. She hunted me down and grabbed the shopping cart, refusing to “let” me push it. So I told her we were leaving and pushed the cart anyway, pretty much dragging her along. She screamed the whole way, through the checkout process, as I left the cart outside, and also as I buckled her and her siblings into the Jeep. And then she just stopped, as if nothing had ever happened. Just like that, my normal nice girl is back for a visit.

I’m sitting here writing this blog dreading the next time I have to ask her to do something, because I just know it will trigger a civil war.

Now let me tell you why the threes are so much worse than the twos. Think of your two-year-old’s worst tantrum to date. Now magnify that a few hundred times, make it more frequent (hell, make it constant), and add in the extra vocabulary they’ve acquired that now enables them to tell you how much they don’t love you anymore. Then, subtract their ability to reason or negotiate. These guys only take bribes (paid up front, of course) and even then it’s not a guarantee that you’re going to win. In fact, they’re probably just bluffing when the mention of a cookie puts an angelic smile on their face. As soon as you round the corner into the next grocery store aisle, the battle will resume.

There is no winning when it comes to parenting a three year old, unless you let THEM win and give them exactly what they want just so they’ll be quiet…but let’s face it, no one knows what a three-year-old really wants, not even the three-year-old’s themselves. They are just rebelling for the sake of disagreeing with you, playing the most cruel kind of devil’s advocate known to mothers far and wide.

It will end someday, though. I think the only reason I AM finding more patience this time around is because I know that this stage will someday end as abruptly as it started. This time, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’ve already been there. It’s not going to make this next year any easier, but it will give me more hope than I had the last time around. This time, I know that it’s just a phase and not necessarily the signs of some kind of behavioral disorder. It’s normal. Most three-year-old’s apparently seem to enjoy exiting their toddler years with a bang.

So, rest assured, fellow moms of three-year-old’s, that it does get better. At least it will temporarily, before we are faced with the next challenging stage in the lives of our spawn.

“Parenting is easy,” said no good, responsible parent ever.

Why I Really Like Running

Please check out my Facebook page: Margaret on a Mission , where I will be posting updates (text, pictures, and more) of my progress as I train for my first marathon in September!!!

Today I ran my longest distance yet since getting back into it.

I did 7.29 miles. Barefoot. On the beach.

Running on the beach is not easy. Sand, especially the soft and dry kind, provides a good deal of resistance which means a great leg workout. If you run it barefoot, you really have to focus on your footfall to make sure you don’t injure your ankles. The sand resistance combined with extra focus and control over the feet leads to greater endurance and strength if you push for higher mileage. For this reason, I’m incorporating a few long beach runs into my training program with the goal of increasing my speed and endurance in long runs on pavement.

I’m all about challenging myself and pushing my body past the limits my brain seems to think it has. When I work out, I go hard. I like to feel like I might collapse from fatigue when I’m finished. I enjoy distance running, but I don’t just like long runs . . . I like long, DIFFICULT runs. Finishing a challenging run means, to me, that my next run will be even better, that my fitness level is only going up.

Now, I didn’t always like running. In fact, I used to detest it. Running the required mile for P.E. class in high school was my least favorite thing to do. I always “rebelled” and walked it instead, as if I was trying to make some sort of statement to my P.E. teacher that she couldn’t make me do this ridiculous, torturous activity. I even signed up for a weight lifting class my senior year instead of regular P.E. because I had heard we weren’t required to run for that course. Imagine my disappointment when I found out those rumors weren’t true. I was still required to “run” the mile, and somehow I managed to pass the class and graduate high school.

The following year, I decided to join the Air Force. I needed to get out of my dead-end hometown, to get a new start in life, meet new people, and become an adult. Of course, I knew that the military would require me to run, especially in basic training. So I bit the bullet and took up jogging a few days a week to get used to it so I didn’t fail miserably in boot camp. In spite of running regularly, I still didn’t enjoy it, and was only doing it because I had to. My plan worked to an extent, and I ended up graduating basic training on time with my flight. I ran the mile in the exact maximum amount of time allowed for women. In other words, I was a slowpoke just scraping by with the bare minimum amount of effort necessary to succeed.

After basic training I arrived at tech school. There, I was still required to run a few times a week. One mile was still a pretty tough thing for me to accomplish. But then my roommate, and best friend in the military, somehow managed to show me that getting fit could actually be enjoyable, as long as you learned to love the burn. She went to the gym on base almost every single day, and she had a really nice body. I had always been mediocre, a little on the pudgy side. I started to realize that maybe exercising didn’t just have to be obligatory, it could also be an enjoyable part of life. I started going to the gym with her, and before I knew it I was hooked. One time, she and I did walking lunges from one end of the football field to the other, and then halfway back. After that we were both painfully sore and had trouble sitting down for a week.

As I saw my body start molding into a firmer, fitter, better version of itself, I started looking for ways to switch it up and improve myself even more. And so, I took up running. Soon enough, I was running the required mile quite a bit faster than I ever had before. Even more than that, I was learning to LOVE the burning in my lungs as they worked harder than ever before to keep me going. Every week I ran longer and longer, until I was running 6 miles a day, 6 days a week. I began experiencing ‘runner’s high’ and that’s when I truly became addicted. My runs were often interrupted by tendonitis in my knees, which was always a bummer, but I usually just pushed through the pain and tossed back large doses of ibuprofen to take the edge off.

Nowadays, I’m a mother of three, and as you already know I’ve dealt with some major medical problems over the last few years that stopped me in my tracks. Thankfully, my problem with tendonitis and other health problems are now gone altogether, and I’m back to running long distances. To get to the point of this blog post, I’ve thought about it and decided that I know exactly WHY I love running so much. It’s not just because it gives me a strong, healthy, and lean body . . . although that IS a major plus . . . it’s because when I’m running, I feel like the world is mine. I feel healthy and strong and completely alive. It clears my mind and puts me in a meditative state. When I finish a long run, I feel like I can accomplish anything. It drives me to eat healthier and makes me stop obsessing over my appearance, because really, who cares how imperfect my body is when I can run 7 miles nonstop?!

To sum things up, running puts everything into perspective for me, makes me feel alive, and helps me keep my priorities straight. That is why I really like running.

Please check out my Facebook page: Margaret on a Mission , where I will be posting updates (text, pictures, and more) of my progress as I train for my first marathon in September!!!

 

10 Week Update

Ten weeks have now passed since my hysterectomy, and I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better! As soon as I was cleared for exercise, I jumped right in. After everything I had been through over the past year and a half, I wasn’t about to let anything stop me. To celebrate the first year of my new, pain-free life, I decided to run a marathon. I start training for it in about 6 weeks, but in the meantime I’ve been running about 6 days per week, increasing my mileage and working on my speed.

I had expected that the surgery would remove some of the pain I dealt with, but I never anticipated that the changes would be so drastic OR this positive! Before the surgery, I did a ton of reading, and most of what I found online was negative. Most of the women that wrote about their hysterectomy experiences described horrific recoveries, years of pain afterward, and in some cases early menopause from their ovaries being damaged during the operation. In spite of all the negative stories I read, I felt like the pros outweighed the cons. For one, I actually really needed to have my uterus removed since I did have placenta accreta, but I also felt that having it removed might cure the pelvic pain I’ve suffered for years. I went into it prepared for the worst, though.

But so far, the worst has not happened. I have never been this pain-free in my life. It used to be that my monthly cycle would bring on anemia and joint pain. It would interfere significantly with my running, because I spent two weeks out of every month with serious bloating, followed by a week of major cramping, light-headedness and pelvic pain. Who would want to go running when they felt like that? And when I did run, my knees and ankles suffered greatly. Sometimes I would just run right through the pain, but always regretted it afterward. Recently, Renato heard on the news that women runners often suffer more from knee and joint pain because of their monthly cycle, and in my particular case, I’m betting that’s pretty accurate.

Now, however, I’m running 100% pain-free. My knees no longer ache at all, even after a 4-mile run (my longest so far since surgery). Even though I still have all my hormones, I no longer have the cramps, joint pain, or anemia. If I had known going into it that the hysterectomy would also drastically improve my ability to run, I wouldn’t have been nearly as nervous.

I feel more confident than ever now that I will make it to my first marathon in September, and that I will run many more races after that.

I may not be supermom….

…but I’m sure as hell trying!

Most days, I’m convinced that my children are conspiring against me to keep this house in a constant state of chaos and disaster, or that their ultimate goal is to drive me batty. Sometimes it’s easier to let the resulting anxiety and frustration overtake me than to remember that they’re not doing this on purpose, that they are just being children. My “job” does not ONLY involve cleaning house, remembering appointments, feeding/bathing kids, and keeping them out of trouble. No. It’s much more than that. I’m also helping to shape three future adult humans, and that is WAY easier said than done.

But enough with the philosophical, sanctimonious crap. I’m really only writing this blog post to vent some of my frustrations before I scream and teach my kids that throwing a tantrum is the correct way to handle their emotions…oh wait, they already learned that one somewhere!

Here’s a little sample of what my typical day looks like:

1. Sweep the same spot in the dining room 5 million times.

2. Wash the same dishes over and over again, day after day.

3. Wipe poop off the kids’ toilet seat at LEAST three times.

4. Clean up multiple spills of various liquids (or sometimes baby powder) in just about every room of the house.

5. Break up fights over toys and resolve arguments over who’s “in charge” or whose birthday is next.

6. Doing all of the above while simultaneously answering endless questions about dinosaurs or where boogers come from, or repeatedly asking the older two to be quiet while the baby sleeps (but then when they DO get quiet I’m struck with a sense of panic wondering what trouble they’re up to now). I swear, the majority of the words that come out of my mouth on any given day are: “Please STOP doing that!” It’s like wrangling a colony of chimpanzees all day.

I’m sure by now you’ve realized that the main source of my frustration is the monotony involved in cleaning up after two small children and a baby. Believe me, when I actually got to clean and polish the hard wood floors yesterday, I was in heaven! It was a little taste of variety, spontaneity, believe it or not! I actually long for the days when they’ll be in school, NOT so I can read books and partake in hobbies or *finally* take a blissfully uninterrupted nap, but so that I can clean this house without having all my hard work undone immediately afterward.

I’m sure there will come a time when I look back and miss these days, when the kids were innocent and I didn’t have to worry much about them because they were right there in the same room with me instead of off at college or living in another state. But for now, I’m sitting here in the present, making it day by day, surviving on coffee and barely enough sleep, hoping I’m doing at least SOMETHING right by these kids. And for now, I suppose that having only a partially clean house will have to suffice if I’m also expected to maintain even the smallest level of sanity.

Now, back to wrangling those chimps I go!

Good News!

Today I had my post-op checkup with my OB. Turns out that the mark on my uterus was NOT endometriosis!!!! There were no other signs of endometriosis during my surgery so this is a huge deal because it can affect women even after hysterectomy. Looks like I’m in the clear! The pathology report indicated that the mark was a scar, and because of its location on the top of the uterus my OB and I concluded that it must be from the incident in 2011 when my Mirena IUD perforated through the top uterine wall.

My outlook on the future just keeps getting better! I’m still feeling amazing and have loads of energy. Just can’t wait to start running again in FOUR WEEKS!

Just Another Update!

I know it’s only been 2 days since my last update on this post-hysterectomy recovery process, but I just have to report that I’m feeling absolutely amazing! Once I got to the 1 week post-op point (yesterday), all my pain vanished, my appetite came back, my milk supply came back even better than before, and I suddenly have loads of energy that I haven’t felt in a very, VERY long time! 

Physically, I feel almost as good as I did when I was in the best shape of my life. I just know that when I get cleared for exercise and can start running again I’m going to feel even better! But emotionally, I feel 10 times better. I think the combination of taking zoloft and having a better outlook on the future now is the reason behind that. 

I’m still taking it easy, though. My doctor warned me that I would probably start to feel pretty good, but to be careful and not overdo it or lift anything heavier than the baby because I still have stitches that are healing. 

I have this burning desire to get out of the house and get active!

 

No Longer in Limbo!

***WARNING: Graphic pictures at the end of this blog post***

I’m now almost one week post-hysterectomy! Surgery was uneventful, but my doctor did find a dark spot on the top of my uterus that she thinks is endometriosis. (She gave me some REALLY cool before & after pictures of my surgery!!!) The pathologist told my doctor that I did indeed have placenta accreta, which was the cause for my hemorrhage a few weeks postpartum. There was deep scarring in the uterine muscle where Viola’s placenta had been, which my OB told me would have put me at serious risk of another hemorrhage next time I got a period, or if I got pregnant again could have been very dangerous. The most effective treatment for placenta accreta is hysterectomy, so it looks like we made the right decision. My uterus was stuck to my bladder so it took them some extra time to separate them, and fortunately I sustained no bladder damage. I got to keep my ovaries so I won’t be going through menopause early or anything. Surgery took about 4 hours altogether. As far as the potential endometriosis she found, THAT would certainly explain a lot of the pain and symptoms I’ve had for the last several years, but we’re waiting to hear back from the pathologist on that one.

Physically, my recovery has been exhausting so far. I feel weak and tired for most of the day, but that’s normal. My appetite has almost disappeared entirely and so I’m losing some more weight. Can’t wait to get back to normal soon. The only pain I’ve experienced has been nerve pain in my legs and hips, but Aleve keeps that in check really well. Breastfeeding is more energy-draining for me than usual, but I’m sure it will pass.

Emotionally, I couldn’t feel better! It’s like an enormous weight has been lifted from my back. I’m ecstatic about the fact that I will never have another period or menstrual cramp and I’ll never have to worry about birth control again! I’m no longer waiting in limbo for this whole ordeal to be over…now I can finally focus on recovering and getting healthy. My goal this year is to finally run a marathon. As soon as my doctor clears me for exercise I’ll be diving right in and begin training!

So now begins MY new year, and the beginning of the rest of my life. :)

And now, some pictures of my surgery. Look away now if you are squeamish. My friends and I thought these pictures were really cool and fascinating, so enjoy!

First, a view of the top (fundus) of my uterus, right before it was removed. That dark splotch surrounded by veins is what my OB believes to be endometriosis.

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Here is a view of the same spot where my uterus USED to be. All that scarring is where the doctors cauterized tissue to prevent bleeding. On both sides are my ovaries.

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One More Week!

I haven’t updated in a while because I’ve been extremely busy with the holidays, so just a few updates:

I’ve been taking Zoloft for about a month and a half now to treat my depression. Apparently it can creep up on you and seemingly come back out of nowhere, even if you’ve dealt with it your entire life and think you know what signs to look for. I guess that’s the nature of a mood disorder, though, thinking you’re better when you’re really not. With everything I’ve had going on the last several months though, it finally just got to a point that I had to admit it to myself and get the medication I need. So far, I’m feeling some improvement, but it’s not consistent yet. My mood COULD be better, and I still have bouts of irritability, anger, and sometimes deep sadness, but those phases are not as long lasting now that I’m on the Zoloft. I really just long for the day that my mood lifts and stays up consistently.

But enough with the sad stuff, and on to the good! Viola has started reaching to grab things and is beginning to fine-tune her motor skills (YAY!). She’s sleeping in her own bed (finally!) and goes down easily at night. Delanna is getting back to the business of potty training, and Demarco turns 4 next month! I can’t believe how fast time has passed us by and I’m trying to hold onto every little moment that I can!

We hosted a little family reunion/Christmas party on December 21st and it was a success. There were about 20 people altogether. We got to see my paternal grandparents, who we haven’t seen in a while. My cousin and his wife came, too! My mom and dad, my brother, and two of my sisters were able to make it out here, and it was wonderful seeing them again. I wish they didn’t all live so far away!

So now that we’re somewhat caught up, on to the present day. My surgery is in 6 days. I’m feeling incredibly ready. I’ve been watching videos on youtube of hysterectomies (freaky I know, but I’m not squeamish) because I want to learn everything I can about what I’m about to go through. Also been reading everything I can find on the topic, and joined the website HysterSisters.com for further support.

I decided to drop my Spring 2014 classes. Pretty sure I was biting off more than I can chew again by signing up for classes that are scheduled to start two days before my surgery. I’m really looking forward to going back to school and finishing my degree, since I’m more than halfway there, but I need to be realistic. I think waiting until Fall 2014 would be better, even though the thought of taking a whole year off makes me cringe. This past year has been incredibly stressful and eventful, though, so it’s best to be smart about this.

Lastly, I’ve made some New Year’s resolutions for my health. I plan to drink more water, eat less chocolate/sweets, recover from surgery, and then run a marathon before the end of the year. A marathon has been a goal of mine for a few years now, ever since I discovered my passion for distance running. I WILL do it!

So, on I go to another very eventful year!